2016 Sun Belt Conference Media Days highlighted the overall growth and viability of the conference. As each team stepped to the podium in New Orleans, each team lauded the increased visibility as a catalyst for growth and a higher quality of football.
The Sun Belt was one of the first conferences to embrace online telecasts of games many years ago. These platforms allows every team to have all its home games aired either on linear or digital telecasts. Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson said in the past year, “56 million minutes of Sun Belt content was viewed on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.” Benson also said, “the league will have another 10-game package on a network to be announced.”
Also, Appalachian State and Arkansas State shared 10 of the 11 first place votes. Both teams could wind up sharing the title because they do not play in the regular season. With 11 schools playing football in the Sun Belt, each team plays eight out of ten possible opponents.
With the addition of the Dec. 30 Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl to its lineup this year, the Sun Belt now has five postseason bowl tie-ins. In addition to the Tucson-based game, Sun Belt teams are also locked into the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl in Montgomery and the AutoNation Cure Bowl in Orlando.
Georgia State head coach Trent Miles spoke to the media and he was asked about the impact the bowl game had on his program.
“That bowl game was huge for us. Any time you get the exposure from playing in a bowl game it is great for everybody; student body, staff, administration and alumni but most importantly it has been huge for our young men. That bowl game showed us what we can do and we are will be expected to do and now we have to go out and work at it because it is not going to come easy and nobody is going to just give it to you.”
Miles was also asked about the difficulties with building a championship team from scratch.
“You have to stick with what you do and don’t change what has been successful. One of the toughest things for people to do is have patience. We live in a society where everybody wants it right now and sometimes that is not the way it goes. You have to go out and do what you believe in, stick to it and understand that there is going to be some bumps in the road.”
Five Panthers made the Preseason All-Sun Belt Team. The receiver tandem of Robert Davis and Penny Hart, including safety Bobby Baker, are on the first team. Meanwhile, tight end Keith Rucker and defensive end Shawanye Lawrence were named to the second team.
Georgia State’s first game of the season is against Ball State Friday, September 2nd at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.